Now, Annuar says no call yet on Ramadan bazaars amid warnings by medical experts

Most states remain undecided on whether to hold Ramadan bazaars this year as the Covid-19 pandemic continues unabated.

PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya appears to have backtracked on its decision to allow Ramadan bazaars in the federal territories, as many states remain undecided on the issue amid warnings by medical experts and concerns over the spread of the Covid-19 virus which has seen the month-long food fair banned in Terengganu.

Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa said no decision had been made yet on the matter, a day after he was reported as saying that bazaars would continue with adjustments to prevent congestion in light of the movement control order (MCO).

Taking to social media today, he said consultations must be held with the health ministry and National Security Council before a decision is made.

“As I have repeatedly explained, I’m giving local authorities in the federal territories a few more days to come up with their recommendations.

“On Friday, they will brief me,” he said in a post on Twitter.

He added that the decision would not be made unilaterally, reiterating that the health ministry and National Security Council must be consulted.

Speaking to the media in Putrajaya yesterday, Annuar reportedly said Ramadan bazaars would not be cancelled but instead adjusted as they were needed by the people.

“We have to think of the needs of rural folks who do not have the time to cook after returning from work,” he said.

He said bazaars this year could be held with up to 50 stalls in any one place, or only 10 stalls which are spaced out and opened in many places.

The first day of this year’s Ramadan is expected to fall on April 23.

Meanwhile, the Academy of Medicine Malaysia said a premature end to social distancing would lead to a third wave of Covid-19 infections.

In a statement, the body which comprises 11 colleges representing medical specialists said it disagreed with any move to hold Ramadan bazaars this year, even if measures are taken to prevent congestion at stalls.

In any event, it said, social distancing would be “near-impossible” to achieve given the popularity of Ramadan bazaars.

“Close contact will inevitably occur in parking areas, en route and between customers and vendors,” it said, adding that this would set back any previous and hard-earned gains since the MCO was enforced on March 18.

It suggested alternatives such as the sale of goods online, with the help of delivery services to reduce the risk of infection and ease the economic impact on small traders.

“The war against Covid-19 is far from over, and we will need to continue persevering in order to enjoy many more Ramadans to come,” it said.

“Losing this war is not an option.”

Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak and Selangor remain undecided so far on whether bazaars will be held this year.

Melaka and Negeri Sembilan meanwhile have cancelled the bazaars while Penang says all applications have been frozen due to the MCO.